Commissioned by the ICA for 'Soundworks' (image shows the installation of Soundworks at the ICA)
The distinctive opening bars of Harry Nilsson's 1967 'One' were prompted by the songwriter’s close listening to an engaged signal when trying to reach someone. This lament to loneliness has been numerously covered over the last forty-five years but I first encountered it through the version by Aimee Mann, used as the opening number to the soundtrack for 'Magnolia' (2000). In this often emotionally overwrought film, multiple life narratives intersect and in one particularly haunting story, the ramifications of an event that happened in childhood still play out in adult life.
Behaviour is learned through acute and often razor sharp observation, language is acquired through repetition: numerous contemporary books and songs for the very young involve the cyclical increase and decrease of numbers: animals, typically, are counted out and counted in again. One …two .. one… one… one…one …one.. one … one…one… one ..one…two…one …two…one...........one ….
Thanks to Polly, 3